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  1. #1
    4 Star Lounger
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    Collaborative software?

    I'm looking for a program that two people can use to share an application window and/or an entire desktop over the Internet.

    That is, George can run an application on his machine while Martha watches; Martha can take control for a moment to demonstrate something; and George and Martha can reverse roles, even sharing different applications that are running on their respective machines at the same time.

    The closest I have come to this is pcAnywhere, but it appears to have a strong "me server, you client" orientation. I suspect that would get in the way of exchanging roles as readily as I need to. I haven't worked with pcAnywhere since it worked over dial-up connections, though, so I can't be sure.

    Part of the problem is that I'm not even sure what buzzwords to search for. I tried "collaborative software" and "whiteboard," but I didn't find anything useful.

  2. #2
    3 Star Lounger
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    Re: Collaborative software?

    Have you considered Net Meeting? Look here.
    Ed
    "Somebody left the cork out of my lunch." - W. C. Fields

  3. #3
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    Re: Collaborative software?

    Or you could (insert verb created from search engine of choice here ... eg Google...) for VNC. There are various open source versions that are worth a look.
    John (Unreconstructed Jacobite)

  4. #4
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: Collaborative software?

    It does sound like you're (almost) describing a product like (FREE): TightVNC Remote Control Solution which I've been using very successfully now for some time. However, it IS one of 'em that's a "me server, you client" kinda thing. My son runs the "server" program and I run the "viewer" and logon to his computer to help him with a problem. While there, I open a copy of Notepad on his computer so I can tell him things I want HIM to do. I wait and WATCH as he performs what I ask him to do. Then, I continue with my help or tutorial by executing more stuff on his machine, all the while he is seeing on the screen what I am doing. It works just fine. If he needs to "talk" to me, he can also type in the Notepad screen and I can see that.

    Now, this arrangement is NOT bi-directional, i.e. he cannot operate MY machine while we are working together. However, I have NOT tried to make it so by running the server program on MY machine and let him open another window by running the viewer on his machine. I don't know if that might work or not. TightVNC does let you have more than one connection open at a time, but I've not tried to do that yet.

    Sure beats NetMeeting in my book...

  5. #5
    5 Star Lounger ibe98765's Avatar
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    Re: Collaborative software?

    Check:
    http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/11/08/conce...-collaboration/ for some ideas. Also read the comments which often point to other possibilities.

  6. #6
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    Re: Collaborative software?

    Thanks to everyone for the suggestions (and any more that follow). So far the Microsoft product and the VNC product look closest to what I want. The Microsoft Web page had broken links, so I wasn't able to investigate it -- I will try again when I have time. VNC looks very promising except that it's not clear whether it can be used in both directions concurrently. I'm going to join their mailing list to ask.

  7. #7
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    Re: Collaborative software?

    When using a VNC product and you have PC-1 connecting to PC-2, the PC-1 user can control PC-2 as though sitting at the PC-2 keyboard. In addition the PC-2 user can still operate the keyboard, mouse, etc. You just have to be careful about 'fighting' for control at the same time. PC-2 can NOT control PC-1 when PC-1 has initiated the connection. PC-2 must make its own connection to PC-1 to be able to control PC-1.

    Joe
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  8. #8
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    Re: Collaborative software?

    >PC-2 can NOT control PC-1 when PC-1 has initiated the connection. PC-2 must
    >make its own connection to PC-1 to be able to control PC-1.

    The question is whether it's practical to establish a connection in each direction and use both concurrently (switching with a few keystrokes and minimal disruption). Or, is that more a theoretical possibility? I'll see what the mailing list says.

  9. #9
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    Re: Collaborative software?

    You should be able to open a connection from PC-2 to PC-1 but what's the point? Would you really need each person to be able to control the other PC? I'd think you'd have to be really careful about who was typing or using the mouse.

    Joe
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  10. #10
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: Collaborative software?

    My goodness, would this let me set up an infinite loop, by taking control of the application on your PC that was remotely controlling my PC?

    StuartR

  11. #11
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    Re: Collaborative software?

    >You should be able to open a connection from PC-2 to PC-1 but what's the point?

    The point is to be able to do collaborative work.

    Example: B is trying to get a particular effect in a Microsoft Word document on her machine.

    A watches what B is doing, then takes control to try something. It doesn't work. A relinquishes control of B's machine.

    Next B watches while A opens a file on his own machine which he can use to demonstrate a useful technique.

    From watching A work, B realizes that A doesn't quite understand what she is trying to accomplish. She takes control of A's machine to demonstrate, then relinquishes control...

    >Would you really need each person to be able to control the other PC?

    I don't see any other way to accomplish this. How well would any type of collaborative work go if one party was limited to giving verbal instructions?

    >I'd think you'd have to be really careful about who was typing or using the mouse.

    Of course; that's inherent in the nature of the task. If the software doesn't make such care reasonably easy to achieve, it can't support the task. Which returns me to the original question.

  12. #12
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: Collaborative software?

    Jonathan, in that case, Google for key words including virtual classroom, application sharing, synchronous, remote, learning, teaching. I doubt that you will find free products in this realm. Most entities prefer asynchronous on-line teaching tools - cheaper and less time intensive.
    -John ... I float in liquid gardens
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  13. #13
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  14. #14
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    Re: Collaborative software?

    JohnBF wrote,
    >Most entities prefer asynchronous on-line teaching tools - cheaper and less time intensive.

    Could you expand on that, please? Perhaps I'm missing some important concept. From the perspective of what I'm trying to do, I don't even understand what "asynchronous on-line teaching tools" would look like, much less whether they would satisfy my needs.

  15. #15
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: Collaborative software?

    It's a fancy name for passive programs that candidates read online and then take an online test, with or without scoring. Asynchronous means they are not human-interactive. Typical courses are standard HR programs such as, in the US, sexual harrassment, discrimination, security policies, etc. Do some Googling, I ran into number of articles late in the last decade on online teaching techniques.
    -John ... I float in liquid gardens
    UTC -7ąDS

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